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Someone To Watch Over Me (Blu-ray Review)

Ridley Scott primarily has been known for mostly his genre and period work in his career and then there’s the little stop off on Thelma & Louise. However, he’s been known to dabble in just about everything to be quite honest. One of my personal favorite films of his is the Nicolas Cage led con-man comedy Matchstick Men. He’s long shown his chops in many avenues and one of his early proving grounds was 1987’s Someone To Watch Over Me. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with this film. Shout! Factory is making it another title to add to the quickly growing and amassing Shout Select line of films. They are putting it out on March 12th and will be including brand new interviews with the screenwriter from the film as well as Someone To Watch Over Me’s cinematographer Michael Poster. No word on what the transfer was on the film, but I’ll spoil it for you and tell you it looks pretty damn terrific. You can set yourself up with a pre-order to have day of release from using the Amazon link below.

Film 

After Manhattan socialite Claire Gregory (Mimi Rogers) witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of Joey Venza (Andreas Katsulas), a ruthless mobster, rookie detective Mike Keegan (Tom Berenger) is assigned to protect her. While working on the case, Mike quickly falls in love with Claire, leaving his wife, Ellie (Lorraine Bracco), devastated. Mike is forced to choose between the two women he loves while fending off Venza, who will stop at nothing to get to Claire.

Someone To Watch Over Me is a display that sheer talent can make a movie so much better. Without the hands of the collaborative efforts of director Ridley Scott and cinematographer Michael Poster, this film is not much more interesting or better than a Lifetime television movie or one of those later 70s/early 80s movies where you can’t tell the difference. With their efforts, this is elevated into elaborate, gorgeous sets, wonderfully lit and framed sequences to go with some pretty tense editing. Scott probably also brings an added enhancement in getting performances as well.

As mentioned by the screenwriter on the interview for this disc, the studios were trying to get away from doing things with big stars and trying to set up a proving ground they could go without big names. While to film geeks, Lorraine Bracco, Mimi Rogers and Tom Berenger are all familiar, they weren’t when this film came out. The fact that they are all top notch here is a pretty telling tale on their talents. Bracco especially, This is one of her first films and you can see this instantly landing her Goodfellas. Mimi Rogers is almost to die for her and pretty convincing in her empathy as much as her sexiness. Berenger proves formidable but is a brand of vanilla that is of the best brand and recipe to add here.

Prior to this film, Ridley Scott had only done genre work with feature films. He made some of the most timeless and legendary (No pun intended) films we still talk about and have rabid fanbases for today. With Someone To Watch Over Me he’s trying to prove he can do a more standard drama and comes out with flying colors. The film takes a standard script and lifts it up with so much wonderful atmosphere and character in just the visual frame that it speaks its own language in the silent sense. You could easily understand every piece of Someone To Watch Over Me without the sound turned on. And while I’m not that big on the film, that’s pretty high praise and a tribute to the talents of Scott and Poster.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 108op

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  Someone To Watch Over Me comes to Blu-ray with no details on the transfer but this has to at least be a 2K transfer. Its a movie sublicensed from Sony and its a doozy to look at. All the style comes shining through on the movie beautifully with great detail and depth on display throughout. Its a very impressive looking film that really helps to elevate it from a sort of “basic” script the film has and make your home viewing that much more enjoyable.

Depth:  Depth of field looks a bit above average here. Some of the fancy party sequences and the guy who gets off’d in act 1’s underground layer prove impressive in spacing early on. Movements are natural and cinematic. No real motion distortions were apparent during this viewing.

Black Levels:  Blacks are everything to the look of this film and this disc handles them with good expert measure. The saturation is terrific and the amount of detail and outlining held onto is impressive. There’s a moment of an intrusion late in the film that is primarily lit from the moon and city outside that looks better than you’d imagine this movie deserves.

Color Reproduction:  This is a more normal looking colored film, but there are some stylistic lighting choices as well as a few fashions that do shine through to give the image some character and pop from time to time.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Details on faces and textures come in impressive from any distance as this is a pretty well lit film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Someone To Watch Over Me comes with a pretty rock solid 2.0 track that gets the job done. Its a bit of an odd duck in that there are times where you’d expect things to sound deeper and they don’t, yet the film has no problem hitting those beats with the score and some gun fire or glass crashing at moments in the film. Overall, its a plenty immersive 2 channel track with moments that will go over your expectations, though mostly just meeting things well enough.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, though some moments are a hair muffled that I think is present in the original recording.

Extras 

Someone…To Write A Script: A Look Back With Howard Franklin (HD, 10:41) – A pretty solid little interview with the film’s screenwriter. He discusses where Ridley Scott was in his career at the time and that his inspiration for the film was William Friedkin’s Cruising of all things. He also was credited with cultural awareness on things that would have been present AFTER he wrote the film, so he feels he was ahead of his time when he wrote it.

Someone…To Shoot A Movie: A Look Back With Steven Poster (HD, 14:04) – He talks about being brought in to do Blade Runner and Ridley’s desire to prove he could do a cheaper movie delivered in time and under budget afterward. This is a fantastic interview reveals a lot of production tricks and things that your eyes think you’re seeing in this movie and they aren’t. Poster discusses how after the movie, people were demanding to know where Mimi Rogers’ character’s apartment is located, and he reveals it was shot totally on a sound stage and that all the cool aspects (Stone walls, marble flooring) were cleverly painted paper.

Summary 

Someone To Watch Over Me is a proving area in cinema that shows director and cinematographer matter a lot. This film elevates a rote and ho hum story into a somewhat thrilling and investing piece. Scream Factory has brought the film to Blu-ray with an impressive transfer and a pair of excellent interviews that give some detailed background on the film (I still can’t get over the fact the film was somewhat inspired by Cruising of all things). This would be a solid pickup on a lower price point, but right now the asking price is a bit steep for a film like this. Probably best on first drop for Scott enthusiasts and collectors only.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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